Friday, March 9, 2018

Spring break arrives - wish the weather were better!

The past couple of days have been cold relatively speaking - compared to both early March averages and recent history - but that trend ends for a few days as the pattern turns wet once again.

As high pressure shifts east, wind has turned around to the south and will be quite breezy today with afternoon gusts to 25 mph. However, that will help to push the mercury back into the 60s despite more cloud cover than previous days. Heading into the overnight, the next system to our west starts to organize and the southerly flow (resulting in increased moisture from the Gulf) brings a chance of showers before dawn Saturday morning.

With high pressure along the southeast coast, southerly flow over the Mid-South means increasing moisture and chances of rain. Low pressure over west TX will move east, grazing just south of the metro Saturday night. Surface map valid midnight tonight. (NWS)

Our computer models that are normally pretty reliable within 3-4 days have been struggling with the pattern for the first weekend of Spring Break. There are still some differences, but all now forecast a weak low pressure system to move by just south of Memphis Saturday night. The differences lie in the strength of the low and placement of heavier rainfall. While Saturday looks to feature scattered showers (likely not all-day rain), overnight Saturday night likely will be the wettest period of the weekend. The axis of heaviest precipitation will likely be across north MS/AL, where over 2" of rain could fall this weekend. In the Memphis area, an inch would not be unexpected and also would not result in additional flooding issues given the recent dry days of late, allowing the ground to dry some and the smaller rivers/creeks to return to normal levels. With the track of the low just to our south, we can't rule out a few thunderstorms, but most will be to our south and southwest, as will any chances of severe weather. Temperatures should also remain mild with highs Saturday in the lower 60s.

The severe weather outlook for Saturday and Saturday night shows that a few thunderstorms will be possible in the metro (lightest green), but the severe weather chances (darker green to yellow) will remain south of the area. (SPC)
As the low departs Sunday, "backlash" cloudiness and scattered showers will be possible as an upper level low pushes the system to the east, but brings those rain chances as well. Temperatures will also remain in the 50s all day and a north wind will kick up quite a bit by afternoon. Overall, not a real promising way to start an extended break for most of the school kids in the area!

Total precipitation through Sunday evening as forecast by the NWS. It shows an inch or a little more in the Memphis area, while I believe we could trend down a bit more and end up with a little less than that. Saturday night appears to be the wettest part of the weekend, but neither Saturday or Sunday will likely be completely dry. (WxBell)

If you don't like the rain on Spring Break, then there is good news - the rest of the week looks to be dry. However... cooler air arrives again, lasting much of the week. Lows will be back down into the 30s with highs only in the 50s from Monday through Thursday. We should start to see a warming trend heading into the final weekend of the break, though it could also become wet again. Sunny and 70° just isn't in the forecast quite yet - but we'll be there soon enough! Early March weather always tends to feature a few surprises as the seasons really start to change.

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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